Devoted & Disgruntled 12: What Shall We Do About Theatre and the Performing Arts Now?

Artists and 'Experts': Cross-sector Collaboration

Rosalie White - 14 January 2017




In attendance:
Rosalie White
Lara Lloyd
Chloe Whipple
Lizzie Crarer
Frances Stoakley-Merriman
Anna Barrett
Kate McGrath\
Harriet Usuer
David Lane
Rosie Scudder
Kate McStrew
Roger Kay
Jack Drewry
Joshua Gadsky
Naomi Kuyck-Cohen
Julia Payne
Matthew Linley\
And more…

Frances shared her experience of working on a project about Lichen at the Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

Models for collaborations: 1) Artist has idea for new work, has some science content, finds scientists to ‘check the science’.

Another approach is as above and then involving them in the accessiblility/ accompanying workshops programme

Setting up collabs…. sharing skills and experience key. ‘speed dating’

Fuel example of collaboration with UCL's Ear Institute on their podcasts. in this example the lead researcher who they began the project with found and brought in the other collaborators

Researcher was movtivated by the idea that if academics engaged with artists, they would be more creative in their research.

Aberwystwth Uni artist in residence - outcomes?

How do you measure impact of this kind of work - did it make the researchers more creative?

In one example, the data that the artist collected was used by the scientist

Can be very exciting for an artist to work in this way because it opens up access to new industries - example given of an artist in attendance who was able to work with collaborators from the water industry. Can reinvent the form and enable stories to be told in different ways.

Micro and macro stories from science and art. Complicite given as an example of those who do a lot of research and collaborate in this way and make amazing work.

How can you get people to share stories? and resources?

Artists are also ‘experts’ - expertise in storytelling and engaging people. Artists are often also phenomenal researchers.

You can do a lot even in a day of this type of collaboration. Fuel new project ‘short sharp shocks’ - one day in a room together

A botanist who didn't realise he was an artist.

Before you can collaborate you need to understand someone's world a bit. When people are really different and come together they can come out altered. It can be v powerful.

Positioning how you approach research as a starting point for the collaboration (example The Hub, music project w collab at the heart, nr Colchester). Or using thematic approach as a starting point.

It's not that hard to forge this type of collaboration! Just email them! If you're working on the same issue/ same outcome but coming from different sides then it can definitely work.

Journalism, expertise, we as a sector could be more collaborative. (eg defence of CNN by Fox), critics, writers, solidarity

This type of work is fun. If you are interested in many things you will learn a lot. But it is difficult.

Constant Change

Artists are good at asking stupid questions. Academics are sometimes limited by the need to sometimes seem to be competent

Then we discussed collaborations with the heritage sector for a while.

Diff sectors mean different:
- language
- timescales
- expectations
- contractual differences
- visitor numbers

Can't expect to start on the same page - do be clear about expectations at the start of a project

Trust is crucial, freedom to do what you like, respect what is imporant to them - if you are using their collection then they will feel protective

The benefit of gettting drunk together = aka social time, getting to know each other as human beings, asking about each other


Chris Grady

15 January 2017

It has been fascinating working with a mix of academics, creative artists/theatremakers, and general interest groups, as we explore Revelation (see Naomi's session on Sun). My observations is that the academics began a little unsure of the artists, then became slightly in awe in a “how do you learn all the lines” , and then realised that the artists were professional inquiring minds too - and then the rich deep contextual exploration began.

When eventually a piece of art was delivered growing from the expert involvement, they did tend to revert first to “darling you were wonderful” and then when encouraged to speak from their academic hearts - the real collaboration and challenge of ideas continued.

I can't wait to continue the facilitation of these conversations



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